The first generation of the modern cryonics community, people who were middle-aged in the 1970s, is benefiting from the technologies and visions that they built. They founded a movement that has sustained itself for four decades in providing steadily improved cryopreservation services through organizations such as Alcor and the Cryonics Institute. The growth that would remake cryonics as from a non-profit community into a for-profit business with a healthy research and development arm has yet to happen, unfortunately, despite the clear need for the ability to preserve the brains and minds of those who will age to death before the advent of working rejuvenation biotechnology. But the present level of success is enough to provide a shot at renewed life in the future for the few who are determined enough and organized enough to take it.
I see that another of the early cryonics pioneers was cryopreserved recently:
Fred Chamberlain III who, with his wife Linda, incorporated Alcor in 1972, was cryopreserved by Alcor on March 22, 2012. One week earlier, Fred relocated from Florida to a Scottsdale hospice. This allowed us to watch over him and respond immediately when needed. We believe that Fred received an excellent cryopreservation. More details will be released later.
Linda Chamberlain has released a document to announce his cryopreservation and honor him.
Fred Chamberlain was a NASA-JPL electrical engineer working on the Mariner-Jupiter-Saturn mission in 1973 [and] was and is of absolutely critical importance to cryonics. While most people with more than a passing acquaintance with cryonics will associate his importance with the founding of Alcor, that is in reality only a surrogate marker for his deeper importance. Fred came on the scene in cryonics in what was unarguably its darkest hour. It had degenerated into little more than a fraudulent cult in California and, everywhere in the US, it had lost all vestiges of technical and scientific rigor.
When Fred discovered this in his role as Vice President of the Cryonics Society of California (CSC) he not only left CSC and founded Alcor, he and Linda Chamberlain established, for the first time anywhere, the practice of scientific, evidence based cryonics; cryonics based on the scientific method, on documentation of procedures, policies, cryopreservation protocols and rigorous patient case reports. He and Linda mandated not only scientific and technical accountability, but administrative, financial and legal accountability as well.
Until it does become an earnestly growing industry of many competing companies and millions of cryopreservations every year, cryonics can only work - in the sense of providing a good chance at safe preservation until such time as molecular nanotechnology and other advanced medical technologies can rebuilt and revive cryopreserved individuals - if the movement acts as a community. Maintaining the means of brain preservation for the long term is simply a new option in the general category of caring for elders whose bodies are failing them: this is something that well-balanced communities of humans have accomplished for a long time indeed. So provided that the cryonics movement can persevere as an ordinary, standard community of people with shared interests, as it has for the past 40 years, it should offer those who are cryopreserved a good chance of stability and safety for the decades between now and the advent of restorative technologies of the future.
But that growth is still a better option all round. So very many people go to the grave every day, people who might have chosen cryonics or plastination if those were options backed by a large, vocal industry with millions of customers.